Poker, Unlike Slots, Takes Skill

It takes skill to win at poker. That’s not a big part of winning in games like roulette and slot machines, since these are pure luck. A federal judge in New York state ruled this week that this key difference may someday make it legal to play poker for money in the US. A story in the WSJ, Judge Jack Weinstein said a New York electronics dealer had not violated federal gambling law with his Texas Hold ‘Em poker games held in his Staten Island warehouse.

The article included a sidebar that compared games–chess at the top since it’s pure skill and no luck, then “more skill than chance” games like Bridge, golf and poker. You need skill to win but the cards and the lay of the land plays a part. At the bottom are slot machines, roulette and lotteries–which are pure or nearly pure chance, no skill needed.

Last year online poker came to a screeching halt in the US, when companies who offered players the games were threatened with mega lawsuits. The Feds indicted 11 executives and payment processors for online poker, which shut it down, despite its thriving popularity in other countries.

While the ruling only affects New York state, it’s a crack in the legal barrier that some day may be expanded. Only in Nevada can you legally play online poker. State laws backed up by federal rules has kept the big firms like PokerStars away from players in the other 49 states.

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